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Translating Diglossia, a cultural and ethical question


What holds attention here is the relation of subjectivity introduced by diglossia: the original discontinuous discourses met with in literature reflect a disjunctive mode of thinking, emanating from fragmented beings torn between different cultures. As a consequence, if the translator undertakes to make of them an even whole, diglossia is betrayed and diglossic speakers obliterated. This is when ethical questions are raised. In this respect, loyalty can be regarded as an ethical stance in translation and can help to provide an answer to the two points Andrew Chesterman made: "degree of freedom" and "translator's invisibility". If we admit that translating literature is a creative action - the translator is creating a new text with new linguistic tools and with his/her own education, culture and habits, (his/her habitus) - that he/she is influenced by the ruling doxa and the trends of the time, we can easily accept the necessary degree of freedom (which does not mean a non transfer of the original culture) and thus refute the translator's invisibility. When the question of cultural distance is implied, the exchange between individuals (either objects, elements of sentences, persons) is optimized whenever the adequate "distance" is secured. This distance is of prime importance since the issue of identity is at stake, but also because the translation is somehow creating an artistic piece in its own right. Therefore, translating diglossia in texts often means that the trace of the translator can be left visible in the cracks, thus they will reveal his/her wanderings as if the act of translation were done through some unique form of creolization.


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halshs-00817881 , version 1 (25-04-2013)


  • HAL Id : halshs-00817881 , version 1


Christine Raguet. Translating Diglossia, a cultural and ethical question. Translating Diglossia, a cultural and ethical question, Apr 2013, Princeton, United States. ⟨halshs-00817881⟩
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